Poll-bound Meghalaya steps up alert on Bangladesh border

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 21, 2013 14:20 hrs

Shillong, Feb 21 (IANS) The BSF has stepped up patrolling along the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya following the 36-hour shutdown called by outlawed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) as part of the militant outfit's boycott of the Feb 23 assembly polls.

"We have put our troopers on high alert all along the Bangladesh border to prevent possible infiltration of HNLC rebels into Meghalaya to disrupt the assembly elections," Border Security Force (BSF) spokesman Ravi Gandhi told IANS.

Of the 498 km border that Meghalaya shares with Bangladesh, 215.196 km have been fenced so far and work along the remaining stretch is in progress.

Gandhi said the BSF is in touch with its Bangladesh counterpart to thwart attempt of any HNLC rebels to infiltrate during the elections.

The HNLC, which runs hit-and-run operations from its hideout in Bangladesh, is boycotting the assembly elections and has called for a 36-hour shutdown ahead of the polling day in the entire Hynniewtrep (eastern Meghalaya) from 6 p.m. Feb 22 to 6 a.m. Feb 24.

HNLC spokesman Sainkupar Nongtraw said the outfit has unanimously declared the poll boycott to protest the Indian political system.

The Meghalaya government held a security review with top officials and political parties to ensure free and fair elections following the shutdown called by the HNLC.

"The government is committed to ensure full security to every voter and will ensure that every voter will be able to exercise the voting right in a free, fair and secure environment," said Chief Secretary P.B.O. Warjri.

Ninety-one companies of paramilitary troopers have been deployed across Meghalaya.

Of the 2,485 polling stations, Warjri said 900 have been identified as hypertensive - 355 of these are in insurgency-hit areas and 32 have been tagged likewise for "intense political rivalry".

A total of 345 candidates, including 122 Independents, are in the fray for the Feb 23 elections to pick a new 60-member assembly. A total of 33 candidates are women.

Counting of votes will take place Feb 28.

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